Top Advisor Keith Robinson- “We’ve Never Looked Back”
The costliest disaster in the history of Fort Wayne, IN, the Great Flood of 1982, exceeded $56 million in damages and prompted a visit from President Ronald Reagan. One brigade of sandbaggers is credited with saving 1,860 homes in one Lakeside neighborhood, as clay dikes along the Maumee River began showing signs of failure. The efforts by thousands of volunteers earned Fort Wayne the distinction of The City That Saved Itself.
No one embodies that resilient spirit in the face of challenge more than Keith Robinson, a man proud to be born and raised in Fort Wayne. Just as those sandbaggers faced down the floodwaters in 1982, he has faced down every challenge placed before him with dogged faith and persistence, a trait that has made him one of the best advisors in the Asset Marketing Systems network.
"This used to be a big insurance town. I worked for the old Mutual Security Life. I didn't really match their ideal profile- they looked for people married and in debt, figuring that would motivate them, and I was neither. But I passed their merit exam with flying colors, so I got into the training class. Out of 17 people in my class, I was one of two that made it. I was there for 10 years, doing mainly life insurance, some health, disability, and a little bit of fixed annuity business. I met my wife Linda there."
Humble to a fault, Robinson speaks matter-of-factly as he tells the story of how he "saved himself" from an early career crisis.
"10 years later, I lost my job, my pension, and my benefits when Mutual Security went under. Linda worked for the head actuary at the time, so I had a little inkling of what was happening…there were lots of closed-door meetings going on. Of course, they were telling us everything was peachy keen. But they made some bad real estate investments, and didn't respond well to the onset of the new Universal Life products. The company was in receivership not long after that. I learned an important lesson from that- one company couldn't be all things to all people.
This was in 1987. So, I had a wife, a kid, a house, a van, and not much else! I decided to go independent and start Resource Financial. I pulled up my bootstraps, and really went after it. I wrote letters, sent them to people, and cold called them. I had no clue what a seminar was! If anyone else was doing them, I didn't know about it.
I worked the old one-card system religiously. I always used those index cards, and would carry stacks of them, in a shoebox, with me in my car- my own mobile one-card system, along with rolls of dimes to make more calls! Back then, when I had extra time on the road, I'd pull over and make more calls from a phone booth to other potential customers in the area. Thank God, it worked, and we've never looked back."
Starting a brand new business in the face of adversity, with his young family depending on him, might have seemed risky to some, but Robinson knew from experience that hard work and faith in himself would be the answer. "I always worked," he remembers. "I was an entrepreneur at the age of 12, mowing lawns. I remember my Sunday school teacher mowing the lawn of the church by himself. Jim was his name. I asked him if I could do it. He paid me $7.50 a week and was happy to pay it. I also had a paper route in the mornings. I really wanted a new record player, with a receiver amp and separate speakers, so I could blow away my friends. They were still listening to transistor radios!"
"You are not staying here tonight."
Linda and Keith's famous Monte Carlo, 1977.
Linda Robinson remembers Keith as a persistent young agent with Mutual Security Life, and based on the department in which she worked, that was to be expected.
"I worked in the Persistency Department, where agents worked to conserve their policies as best they could. I saw Keith all the time. He seemed so grown up for his age, mature, and a real gentleman, the kind of guy you wanted to take home to your parents. Well, anyway, I thought he was very handsome, but didn't say 'yes' right away when he asked me out. But he was so persistent. Finally, I said OK."
It didn't take long for Linda to realize she was in good hands.
"He is so thoughtful, and was always very protective of me. One incident stands out in particular. One night he drove me home- in one of those great old cars, a Chevy Monte Carlo, you know…a real 70's car. Well, my roommate at the time was a little wild. One night Keith was dropping me off, and there were all these cars outside the apartment. Keith walked into the apartment, didn't like what he saw, and said to me 'pack up your stuff. You are not staying here tonight. You're staying at my parents' house. This is not a good situation.' We had only been dating for 6 months."
Keith's careful, considerate financial planning style, so important to his success, is no surprise to Linda. She remembers one special example where she experienced it firsthand.
"When we were married 25 years, he planned 25 gifts, starting 25 days before our anniversary. Every gift had something specific about it…so on the 8th day, I got a necklace with 8 diamonds on it…he actually had 2 removed so it would match up to the day…. I got a 12 ounce candle on the 12th day…can you imagine? The amount of thought and planning he had to put into that? It was unbelievable, but that's just him. He plans everything so carefully. People see him as bold, but that's just because he so passionate about what he does."
Keith Robinson, circa 1978.
A Belief in Loyalty
Keith Robinson still lives in Fort Wayne with Linda and their two sons, Brent and Brian. Brent works at Resource Financial with his parents, while Brian is an entrepreneur in Fort Wayne like his dad. The whole family still lives there, and Keith's mom, now 87, now lives with him. Much has changed in the area. Once an insurance hub, most of the carriers are gone now. The old downtown is not there anymore. Large malls now stand where family owned businesses once did. Iconic Midwestern companies like International Harvester and Zollner's have left; but as many women will tell you, the corporate offices of Vera Bradley are proudly located in Fort Wayne.
Just like his home city, Robinson has adapted with the times. He believes that commitment and personal loyalty, so important in his life, have been the key to his strong and adaptable business- starting with his relationship with Asset Marketing.
"AMS taught me how to work the larger numbers. Way back when, Mrs. Metcalfe called me about joining up. The Clintons were in the office at the time, talking about national health care, and I thought that would affect our business, so I had to look at new things. They flew me to San Diego- I had never gotten an offer like that! So I went. I watched Rick's workshop and saw his appointment book afterwards- full of appointments! It was incredible.
AMS Marketing affords us the chance to help more people, so we are never in a position where we might have to sell something that's in the gray area. Why would anyone leave AMS? Some of these guys, they learn how to run their business from AMS, and then greed takes over, and they leave- for what? A few basis points? I don't understand that."
Today, Robinson and Resource Financial continue to adapt and grow, with relationships as the cornerstone of their business.
"It's all about relationships," he muses. "It used to be that you sold a product because you needed commissions. Well, I've always believed it's about taking care of a client. "It's not about transactions, it's about relationships." And we're forever looking for new relationships."